It is a clear statement. “Since the health crisis linked to the coronavirus, there has been a 30% increase in requests for consultation for eating disorders (TCA)”, reports Lydie Thierry, president of Endat-TCA, the Aid Establishment eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating). An increase that psychologist Isabelle Siac, specialist in these disorders, also notes in her office: “There was a boom at the end of the first confinement, but the explosion was really with the interminable semi-confinement in the fall. 2021.”
Unsurprisingly, according to the two experts, the 15-30 age group is particularly affected by the phenomenon. “Simply because the peak of the age of onset of these disorders is between adolescence and the beginning of adulthood”, explains Professor Nathalie Godart, vice-president of the TCA Ile-de-France network and president of the French Federation anorexia bulimia (FFAB). But also because during adolescence, during which one constructs one’s identity in relation to others, and during the years preceding family life, social ties play a very important role.
“Deprived of liberty, they compensated on food”
If the stress generated by the health crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic is one of the triggering factors for eating disorders, the main culprit remains confinement. “A confined blow, a deconfined blow, a semi-confined blow, a blow under curfew, etc. This has greatly disrupted the daily lives of young people, says Isabelle Siac, author ofSuch a vital feeling of insecurity. Some have managed to adapt and find a new rhythm, others have not. “The psychologist evokes the aperitifs at a distance, the too frequent orders of prepared meals or even “young people who have seen their food balance disturbed by returning to their family”. Thus, the symptoms of those who already had an ED may have worsened and those who simply had a somewhat problematic relationship with food developed these diagnosable disorders.
“Deprived of freedom or social ties, they decompensated on food, the last activator of pleasure to which they had access”, analyzes Lydie Thierry, concerning cases of binge eating. Anorexic and bulimic disorders are rather the consequence of a loss of framework, daily rituals and limits. “Some started eating things they would never have eaten before. One of my patients took ice cream in the morning”, gives as an example the one whose association Endat-TCA published Binge eating disorder in 100 Questions/Answers. Lydie Thierry thus notes that the eating disorders may have stemmed from a “need to regain control, in particular of one’s body, through food”.
Rupture of care and overwhelmed teams
The confinements also prevented good patient care. With the travel ban, the follow-up care of people who already suffered from TCA “was complicated, even with the video consultations”, slice Lydie Thierry. And patients who began to suffer from eating disorders were unable to access care early. “Today, the services are faced with an extremely significant increase in support requests. The number of patients is greater, as is the severity of the disorders,” reports Nathalie Godart. Psychologist Isabelle Siac claims to see more and more serious cases of anorexia and bulimia “with patients who make themselves vomit up to five times a day”.
The care teams are overwhelmed because these situations require more human resources, more time, more support. “Results, people who suffer from ED have great difficulty finding care and their situation is getting worse. It’s a vicious circle, ”laments the professor.
Telecommuting and snacking
Could the end of confinement have solved the problem? It was reckoning without telework, widespread in a large number of companies. “Employees take their lunch break anytime, eat in front of their computer on autopilot,” notes Lydie Thierry. They disconnect from the sensations of food, fullness and satiety. This leads to snacking. »
Nathalie Godart, president of the FFAB, recalls that it is always possible to turn to your doctor, paediatricians, child psychiatrists or even to call the Anorexia bulimia info listening hotline at 0810 037 037. On the side, Rights Defender Claire Hédon called on Thursday, World Eating Disorders Day, for Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to put in place an emergency plan for the mental health of young people in the face of “the gravity of the situation”. , considering that “largely insufficient” means are deployed.